Celebrating young wine and chestnuts

são martinho saint martin

The feast of Saint Martin is celebrated on November 11 each year and is also known as Martinmas, Old Halloween and Old Hallowmas Eve. The day is named after Saint Martin of Tours who was a Roman soldier, baptised as an adult and who later became a French bishop championing the poor.

In Portugal, the Festa de São Martinho (the feast of Saint Martin) is associated with the celebration of the maturation of the year’s wine and is marked by drinking the new wine (magusto) accompanied with roasted chestnuts. Traditionally, fairs are held at this time of the year in Portugal and this is certainly true across the Algarve. 

Portimão is perhaps the largest and oldest of the region’s São Martinho fairs, dating back to 1662. This year the fair begins on November 8 and can be enjoyed until November 17, opening at 4pm and closing at 1am. With stalls selling traditional gastronomic delights together with other items such as crockery, toys, trinkets, footwear and much more, visitors will also be able to enjoy fair rides including a Ferris wheel and musical entertainment. Click here for Google Map directions to the fair.

On November 9 in Alcantarilha, close to Lagoa, the 25th São Martinho Walk will start at 9pm, in the village market square. Participants (free entrance) will walk just under 6kms to Alcantarilha Gare where they can enjoy a glass of magusto and roasted chestnuts. There will be a bus available to take people back to Alcantarilha.

Lagoa council is also hosting a celebration in Lagoa on November 15 and 16, which will continue in Carvoeiro on November 17.

Lagoa will have a market on the pedestrian street Rua 25 de Abril, which will be open from 9am until 1pm where magusto will be found. There will also be music, street entertainment, a children’s play area with bouncy castles and the opportunity to try agua-pé and of course, roasted chestnuts. Agua-pé is made from the remains of the grapes after pressing them for wine. Water is added and it is then fermented for several days. It is no longer available commercially but is sold locally from domestic production.

In Carvoeiro the São Martinho festivities will continue in Largo da Praia between 2.30pm and 6.30pm, again with all the trapping of a São Martinho fair. 

In the Lagos area, on November 11, Bensafrim will be celebrating Saint Martin’s day with a celebration in the Largo do Mercado starting at 3pm. There will, of course, be magusto together with roasted chestnuts and plenty more including spit-roast pork and stalls offering handicrafts and local sweets. Humberto Silva will get the dancer in you tapping your feet, playing popular and traditional music on the accordion.

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